Death to muzak!

Virtual muzak for virtual stores? Computers can provide endless copyright-free tunes
Virtual muzak for virtual stores? Computers can provide endless copyright-free tunes

Being putting on hold will become a joy, travelling in a lift a pleasant interlude and even a trip to a shopping mall an exercise in aural pleasure, if the a new piece of software lives up to its claims.

Researchers at the University of Granada in Spain say that they have designed software that is able to compose and play high quality music in real time.

Inmamusys (Intelligent Multiagent Music System) uses a "two level multiagent artificial intelligence architecture" to compose "emotive music" on the fly.

General genre generation

A survey to evaluate the system found that users were able to identify the type of music composed by the computer. This means a person with no musical knowledge whatsoever can use the artificial composer simply by deciding on the type of music (pop, classical, jazz, electro-grime) they want to hear.

The Spanish scientists expect their software to be popular across leisure and work environment. "A large number of the places we visit have canned music systems," they say. "Playing these pieces of music involves copyright payments. Our system will make these music copyright payments a thing of the past".

According to researcher Miguel Molina, composing music "is usually something done by human beings, although they do not understand how they do it. In reality, there are numerous processes involved in the creation of music and, unfortunately, we still do not understand many of them. Others are so complex that we cannot analyse them, despite the enormous power of current computing tools."

The scientists are now considering commercial development of the software.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.